In August, I will be releasing episode 1 of Project LEAP entitled Time to Answer the Call. As July quickly becomes a memory, I decided to take a look back on the journey that has brought me on the brink of releasing the first episode and if all goes according to plan, nine more before the year comes to a close.
Around this time last year, I started following a Youtuber who was documenting his journey to creating a fiction podcast. Of course, I was curious so I quickly subscribed and started to watch his previous videos. Once all caught up, I waited and waited for the next update. I figured he was in his creative lab and sometime soon I would get the notification about the next step in the process. I waited and waited and still nothing. I finally decided to reach out and asked for an update. I quickly realized a familiar foe had reared its head and caused his project to halt: Life.
Life is all-encompassing and all-powerful
It can stop the most talented, the strongest, the smartest and the most creative, right in their tracks. I’ve been a victim on more occasions than I would like to admit and unfortunately, Life added another notch to its belt. I was disappointed, but for some weird reason, instead of empathizing and feeling second-hand defeat, I felt….motivated.
As I sit here now to define what motivated me at that moment, I realize it was a revelation of self. In his allowing of his life to get in his way, I saw myself. I looked at him and saw the hundreds of times I said I was going to begin something, start that something and then completely give up because of roadblocks. Looking in this mirror, I decided I didn’t want that to be me anymore. I wanted to direct a new narrative in the life of Terrence.
So I set out on this journey
Initially, I was going to document and vlog about the entire process, but I quickly decided that it would be a distraction for me and give me an excuse not to keep going. Though I announced it to some friends and family, it was a project that kind of remained under wraps. With episode one to be released in August, I think I made the right choice. With my confidence at a high, I’m now comfortable unwrapping the process and telling you about the journey, because if you are anything like me following that Youtuber, you probably want to know.
I use the word journey because that is truly what it has felt like in the development of this project. As I sit here and reminisce on the last 12 months or so, I think, no, I know it’s beneficial to share with you ALL that we (my brother is leading out in sound production) have gone through; the wins, the losses, frustrations, revelations and everything else along the way.
Maybe you’re not familiar and want to know what audio dramas are all about or maybe you have considered trying it out and want to know what to expect so you can be better prepared. Whatever your curiosity may be, I hope to give you what you are seeking.
I want to share everything with you in the previous 12 months as well as the process going forward because trust me, with this being our first stab at this, there is still a whole lot to learn.
So that’s the plan going forward, but today I just want to share with you my why and why your why should fuel you like it did me.
I had many reasons why I wanted to take a shot at fiction podcasting. Here are the five that really stand out.
5 Reasons Why I Created An Audio Drama
My wife, since we met in college, has been my number one supporter. She has always seen potential in me that I chose to ignore. For every project I started and stopped, she has never put me down while still vehementally encouraging me to finish because she knows it will never be enough until I am able to share my work with the world. She deserves better and has more than earned the right to see me finish a project so she will know her over a decade of support is not in vain.
FYI: SHe has been the biggest supporter of the podcast. I had to tell her to stop playing the episodes on repeat so I can get an idea of true listernership lol. But it has brought me a lot of joy to know I have finally proved to her that she hasn’t wasted her time and all of her support has meant something to me and has driven me to finally see a project through.
I love telling stories. Stories make the world go ‘round. Stories captivate, elevate imaginations, change hearts, teach lessons, provide an escape and maybe most of all, I believe stories connect us. Stories transcend race, gender, culture, and nations. If you can tell a great story to one group of people you can tell it to any group of people.
3 Fiction podcast allows me the opportunity to write.
Writing has always been my number one vehicle for delivering a story. It’s just you and a blank sheet of paper or maybe a blank word document on your computer screen. From there it’s my choice. I can put down whatever I want. I get to choose from the billions of word combinations to create something that I enjoy and hope others will as well.
4 Ease of entry
While I love writing and storytelling, it’s not always easy to share with the world. I know we have social media and Youtube, but as a writer, the dream is to get an agent, have that agent find a publisher and then be on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks at a time. That scenario is not impossible, but it’s not easy either. After finally finishing your final draft (after having an editor look over it first) the writing doesn’t stop. You then have start marketing yourself to agents. You have to write query letters addressed to specific agents and you can only do that after taking hours to research the different agents in your genre and see what kind of queries they are accepting at that moment in time. If you are blessed enough to find an agent, that still means nothing for your book.
It just means you have the support of another individual or agency. You then have to play the waiting game while the agents solicit their contacts and different publishers to pick up the book you spent years writing. IF you get to the landmark step where your book is accepted by a publisher, only then can you begin to breathe a little and feel like you are going places. But the work still doesn’t end there. There are contracts, edits, marketing, platform building and so much more.
Thankfully, we now have self-publishing. It allows you to finish a project and get it out to the world on your own terms. Taking this route, you accept all of the financial risk as well as the marketing responsibilities for getting it sold (hope you break even). Even with these factors, they don’t outweigh the ability to have full control of how and when your novel, short story, collection of poems, etc. is delivered to the world.
Podcasts present the same satisfaction. Writing, filming and producing a movie is a lot of time, energy and it weighs heavy on the financial side. I’m committed to making features one day, but for now, I consider fiction podcasting to be equivalent to self-publishing. It allows me to write a script, record, produce, edit and everything but film a project. A project which could one day be on a visual medium, all at a fraction of the cost. As long as you have a microphone, a computer, recording software (which you can find for free), time and a story, you can bring an idea to life and very easily share it with the world. Share it on your own terms.
5 I love audio dramas
Growing up in a military family, naturally, we moved around quite a bit, which meant we were usually far removed from extended family. This included grandparents. We were, however, able to stay connected to one of my grandmother’s for a very special reason. She would send us movies and radio dramas on cassette tape (I’m not that old, but yes old enough to remember regularly using cassettes). These were all Bible and Christian based shows like Your Story Hour with Uncle Dan and Aunt Sue and a favorite that even my kids listen to now, Adventures in Odyssey.
These shows always told great stories, but what I loved best about them was the opportunity they presented me to use my imagination to visualize all that was happening. The clever way the script is written to give you visual cues, the effective use of sound to create atmosphere and environment, the passion of the actors to really own their characters and breath into them, life. All of that stayed with me. I even remember in high school flirting with the idea of doing a radio drama of sorts one day. It wasn’t until years later when I discovered the amazing audio drama Wolf 359 and read articles and watched interviews with its creator, Gabriel Urbina, that I really told myself: Terrence you have to give this a shot.
And here I am taking my shot and I truly thank my big 3 for pushing me to this point: Grandma, Adventures in Odyssey and Wolf 359. Weird combination but together they served their purpose in my life.
BONUS: While I love listening to audio dramas and I have listened to plenty, I realized there is something missing
I think it’s important for all creative mediums to have a representation of all peoples and podcasting is no exception. Now there are plenty of amazing, thought-provoking, hilarious, faith inducing and any other superlative you can think of podcasts created and hosted by people of color. I see more popping up all the time and I am happy to see it. Sadly I have noticed when it comes to the world of fiction podcasting, the representation isn’t the same.
While we have people of color acting in fiction podcasts, I have been having trouble finding people of color who are actually creating them. I’m sure they are out there somewhere and I would love to meet and get to know them if you know of any. With these thoughts, this medium presented a great opportunity to increase representation, even if only by one.
Bonus: Why not?
There was no good reason that I could come up with that was strong enough for me to change my mind and call it quits before I even got started. If I knew what I know now, maybe the case would have been a little stronger, but I always go back to the journey. We only get to experience the journey if we actually go on the journey. We will always have plenty of reasons to not do something, but after examining all of the cons, it’s important to ask yourself this question as I did a year ago: Are these reasons worth not even trying? It’s not all about success and failure. We get too caught up in those notions. More often than not, it’s about the experience. The journey to success or failure. That’s what stays with us. That’s what makes trying worth it.
The journey is what brought me to where I am today.
Until next time….